A grand send off for our School Direct cohort 2017-18

27 June 2018

Our final celebratory School Direct Cluster training day of the year with our current cohort was great fun last week. The sun shone, our venue was perfect and our trainees arrived with lots to share about their reciprocal placements. Over terms 5 and 6, they all paired up and visited each other in their schools with a focus on helping to improve an aspect of their classroom practice. They decided on the focus themselves, observed each other teaching, used coaching conversations to help each other delve a bit deeper into what was working and what wasn’t and then came up with simple action plans to improve. After a couple of weeks, they went back to their partner’s school and observed a second time,  focusing on the impact of their improved teaching on the outcomes for the children in their class. 

At our final cluster session last week, the trainees were asked to come back with a brief presentation about their experience. 

Powerpoint was banned for this exercise so that they had to think more creatively.

One trainee brought haberdashery to explain the tangled mess she found herself in initially before organising her thoughts into a structure and pattern, not in a way that is formulaic or rigid, like a dress pattern, but where there is freedom to be creative, like a patchwork quilt. One pair used music to explain their journey, with key songs symbolising their journey to improvement. Another brought homemade cakes, iced with letters representing aspects of her practice and another had us making ‘blood’ with plasma (yellow food dye, white blood cells (marshmallows), red blood cells (dyed cheerios) and platelets (oats) to illustrate the way that hands on learning helped to engage her pupils and get them hooked into learning. One designed a kahoot quiz and another trainee wrote a poem to share his thoughts about the process of learning to teach. 

I think that it is worth sharing and reflecting on the journeys that our less experienced teachers are on, to remind us that we are all still in the business of learning, collaborating and relying on one another to improve, in whatever roles we find ourselves in, for the benefit of our children. None of us have got it all sewn up.

One trainee captured their thoughts as a poem…

Ok, so here’s the situation

My focus was structure, Josh: differentiation.

He had a clear target, I couldn’t say the same

I find hitting targets is like a whack–a–mole game.


Maybe my planning gets slicker, my timings improve

As I turn my back, the goalposts move!

Behaviour might drop or progress might falter,

We’re studying the globe and we can’t find Malta.

Or I’m teaching PE and everyone’s walking,

Around the playground, oblivious I’m talking.


Over time, though, I realised that’s just part of teaching

You’ll miss some targets you feel you should be reaching.

But others you’ll hit without even knowing

That in tiny ways your skills have been growing


So I focused on lessons, on structuring them right,

Keeping the inputs brief and the timings tight

Noticing when the children were drifting

When eyelids were sagging and less arms were lifting.

I added some pit stops and showcased some learning

This kept some children’s mental cogs turning


Some bits haven’t worked, some haven’t worked YET

I don’t think it’s useful to aim to be “perfect”

They say 80% of success is showing up

But I’ve got zero chance without some coffee in a cup


It helps me to think of all our group members

Walking into a class on the 1st of September.

Jon walking in with a smile on his face,

Oblivious to the fact he’s three hours late.

Or Josh with his group, aged 5 and 6,

Trying to explain how we live in the Matrix.

And Ella walking in, or should I say hopping,

Trying to collect all the papers she’s dropping.

And from day 1, to the 44th,

Katherine will remind you that she’s from “up North”

I won’t do the rest, we’d be here all day,

I think what I’m really trying to say

Is thanks for your help; it’s not been a breeze

And enjoy your year as NQTs!

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